A Breakout Role for Twitter? The Role of Social Media in the Turkish Protests

July 1, 2013  ·   Report

To better understand the effects of collective action and protest organization, we analyze 22 million tweets related to Turkish protests. We find that online activity has a spillover effect into offline action.

A view from Taksim Square on June 4, 2013.

Credit: Wikimedia


As part of our broad aim of understanding the role that social media can play in initiating, promoting, and spreading political participation, we have been collecting and analyzing tweets related to the Turkish protests since they started on May 31. The study of these 22 million tweets can shed light on the dynamics of information diffusion and collective action organization. When information is suppressed by traditional media, such is the case with the Turkish protests, social media can fill information gaps.

Evidence suggests that 15,000 users sent at least one tweet from Gezi Park, which points to spillover effects of online activity into offline action. More research is needed to identify the mechanisms that drive the self-organization of tens of thousands of people in the form of massive protests, and the features that are generalizable and unique to each particular case.